Archbishop Elpidophoros and National Commander Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis present The Nicholas J. Bouras Award to John Zavitsanos.
John S. Zavitsanos, Archon Ekdikos and a prominent member of Leadership 100 was presented with The Nicholas J. Bouras Award for Extraordinary Archon Stewardship for his outstanding service to the Orthodox Church as an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople on October 18, 2019 by His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and the National Commander of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis. The ceremony at the New York Metropolitan Club was part of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle’s annual three-day assembly, Archon Weekend.
In a message commemorating the occasion, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew noted of the late Archon Nicholas J. Bouras that his “spirit of charity, generosity and philanthropy still resonates deeply within the echelons of your distinguished body, and constitutes the noble ethos that each of you aspires to attain and exemplify.” His All-Holiness continued: “Indeed, for more than fifteen years, Mr. Zavitsanos has embodied and promoted these qualities in both his service to the Church and to the community at large.”
His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros addressed the recipient, stating: “By your faithful διακονία in the Order of Saint Andrew, Archon John, you have demonstrated your worthiness to join the ranks of George Behrakis, the first recipient, and all the others including our Vice Chairman of the Archdiocese Council John Catsimatidis, and last year’s honoree, George Safiol. Your philanthropic offering is worthy of the memory of Nicholas J. Bouras, and the excellence of your life and work speak of your humility and graciousness in living up to your high calling in Christ.”
National Commander Anthony J. Limberakis, M.D., praised Archon Zavitsanos’ “tremendous stewardship of time, talent and resources in support of the Mother Church of Constantinople, the Orthodox Christian Church throughout the United States, and to the mission of the Order of Saint Andrew in which all children of God should be granted religious freedom as a fundamental, inalienable human right.”
Zavitsanos’ daughter Anastasia noted that he “believes in the basic rights and freedoms of every human being, and vocalizes and lives that truth, even when it could be dangerous for him.”
“I am personally honored, humbled and happy to receive this Award,” Zavitsanos said in an interview after the ceremony, “particularly considering for whom the Award has been established, Nicholas J. Bouras.”
John Zavitsanos was invested an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 2004. In 2007, he was elected to the National Council. Since then, he has worked to help enact efficiencies and updates in Archon administration and policies. The National Commander appointed him to chair the Exarch’s appeal committee in 2014. He dramatically changed the program by creating the Sponsor A Day Program— which more than doubled the annual contributions. He also initiated the Archon Bootcamp in 2017 to train Archons-elect regarding the serious responsibilities they will have going forward to defend the Holy Mother Church and helped revamp the Archon selection process and move it from appointment to an application process.
Zavitsanos served on the committee that hosted Religious Freedom Conferences in Brussels and in Washington, D.C. He was part of the international team that assisted with the representation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, aiding in The Ecumenical Patriarchate successfully suing the government of Turkey and reclaiming an orphanage it had owned for hundreds of years just outside of Istanbul.
He has served his Houston, Texas community in many capacities. He has been a board member of the Houston Lawyer Referral Service and has worked on many pro bono cases over the years, including working on a prisoner abuse case that at the time was one of the largest settlements with the state of Texas. He also was a board member of the Menil Art Museum’s Byzantine Fresco Chapel in Houston and stewardship chairman of his local parish, revamping that program 15 years ago. The Annunciation Cathedral in Houston now has one of the largest stewardship programs in the country (they collected over $1.5M in 2018), serving as a model for several parishes in the United States.
Zavitsanos has been married for 30 years to Joni and has four children. His wife Joni is an artist who focuses on Byzantine iconography like her father Diamantis J. Cassis (also an Archon).